Awka-When flooding emergency came calling with ferocious intensity in 2018, about seven years after a similar devastating one in 2012, it was a test of survival for the Gov. Willie Obiano administration in Anambra State.
Before then, gully erosion, which has been a common occurrence in the state, especially in some traditional areas like Agulu and Nanka, where they are known to most active, wrecking havoc with reckless abandon.
This is against the backdrop of the fact that the natural disasters have been spreading and severely depleting the limited land resources available for development in Anambra State.
Again the flooding that accompanied the last rainy in the 2019 season, appeared as if it was on a mission to wash away most of the state, particularly the food-producing areas.
Indeed, the major food producing areas of the state most affected in the flooding include Anambra East and West, Ayamelum, Onitsha, Ogbaru, Ihiala and environs.
As is usual, with the rising water levels from within and outside the country, well above the normal levels, it is expected that water will overflow their banks. With flooding and heavy rains, this is a guaranteed disaster as the flow affects most tributaries of the lower Niger and River Benue.
And if the waters are not properly managed, can burst their banks and leave further damages in its trail.
As disasters follow raging rains, occurrence of erosion menace increases in leaps and bounds. To tackle the hydra-headed problems would mean thinning out the lean resources available to the state from the Federation Account.
Given the organisational approach adopted during the 2018 when the state constituted a committee that eventually assumed a Standing Disaster Committee” status: the committee immediately takes over, the setting up Holding Centres’ in 17 designated centres across all 21 Local Government Areas of Anambra State affected by either flooding and erosion menace.
No less than the state’s Deputy Governor, Dr Nkem Okeke has been placed at the Head of the Committee, with heads of major Ministries, Agencies, Parastatal and Agencies serving in the committee.
The standing committee becomes the rallying point through which to address immediate and remote challenges posed by such natural disasters.
The measures are to enable the state to contain emergencies from flooding and erosion, particularly those that have displaced persons: they are now to provide palliatives while preparing for long term solutions to deal with such horrendous emergencies.
Homes and farmlands are washed away as well as incalculable losses in crops. This obviously imperils food production capability of farmers from such areas of the state.
Knowing full, well that the problem would need prompt attention to for immediate intervention the committee provided temporary shelters, food, blankets, portable water, mosquito beddings.
While these will be ongoing, the state, then, dispatches requests for support from Federal Government and International Donor Agencies, most of who have been coming back in droves into Anambra State following the human-friendly disposition of the current Government in the state.
Even though supplies take time in coming, the state would have done well to mitigate the sufferings of the displaced people.
Individuals and groups are then encouraged to make donations to support the people directly affected. It is needless to say that schools are also adversely affected as children and their parents are already displaced persons in nearby Holding Centres.
The requests for support for 2018 usually arrived the next year in 2019 and have since reached the affected communities.
But, issues over erosion are a bit more completed as it was not easy to initiate measures. For instance of the 900 active erosion sites in Anambra, only 14 interventions had successfully been concluded.
The measure involves rigorous and meticulous processes of identifying sites, bidding and award of contracts as well as procurement processes.
And in some cases, the sheer scale of job to be done could well require more complex measures to solve.
A recent report by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) on flooding in Nigeria concluded that flooding affected most the 36 States of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT Abuja).
It not only attributed it to blocking of natural and manmade drainages but partly to climate change.
The report also notes that the most immediate cause was a result of water released from a Cameroon Dam.
Minister for Environment, Hadiza Ibrahim noted that Anambra State was particularly affected as it is situated at the lowest point of the River Niger and as such is flood-prone.
Ayamelum, Anambra East and West as well as Ogbaru are mainly the local governments usually highly submerged perennially. But, however, Awka North, Ihiala, Onitsha North and South also suffer various degrees of destructions from flooding and erosions.
Chairman of Anambra Standing Committee, Dr Nkem Okeke has vowed to continue to hold forth in striving to mobilise support to mitigate disasters in Anambra as the state’s monthly allocation can only be like a drop in an ocean.
He called for well-meaning individuals in the state and beyond to continue to rally support to the state to cope with various natural disasters bedevilling the state.
Source: Anambra State Government